University of Delaware Football Picked No. 3 in CAA Pre-Season Coaches/Media Poll; Five Blue Hens Named All-CAA
July 27, 2011
Photos Courtesy of Jimmy Smith
BALTIMORE -- Optimism filled the air Wednesday morning as the Colonial Athletic Association kicked off the 2011 football season by holding its annual Football Media Day at M&T Bank Stadium.
Head coaches, players, and media relations staffers from 11 CAA schools were on hand to discuss their team’s chances this fall with media members in a gathering of nearly 200 people. The CAA also announced its pre-season all-conference team and the pre-season order of finish as selected by head coaches and media relations personnel of the member schools.
Nowhere is that optimism higher than at the University of Delaware where the Blue Hens look to build on a memorable 2010 season that saw them share the CAA title and advance all the way to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
Delaware, coming off a 12-3 record of a year ago under head coach K.C. Keeler, earned two first place votes and were picked to finish third in the poll. William & Mary, which shared the CAA title with the Blue Hens a year ago, was selected as the pre-season favorite with 12 first place votes followed by James Madison (4 first place votes), Delaware (2), New Hampshire (2), Massachusetts (1), Richmond, Villanova, Rhode Island (1), Maine, league newcomer Old Dominion, and Towson.
“There is so much talk about how great this league is going to be once again and the tremendous parity that we have,” said Delaware Keeler, who will enter his 10th season at the helm in 2011. “We were picked third in the league but some polls have us as high as No. 6 in the country so you never know. That is the nature of the CAA. The ranking doesn’t mean a whole lot. We have a pretty good football team coming back despite losing some great seniors, leaders, and some really dependable players. I think we had as good a spring as we’ve ever had and all indications are that this has been a great summer of preparation. I think we have a pretty good football team coming back and our expectations are really high.”
In addition to the No. 3 ranking, Delaware put five players on pre-season All-CAA team led by pre-season Co-Offensive Player of the Year Andrew Pierce at running back, offensive linemen Gino Gradkowski and Rob McDowell, defensive end Michael Atunrase, and linebacker Paul Worrilow.
Pierce, a sophomore who was last year’s CAA Rookie of the Year, shared pre-season Offensive Player of the Year honors with William & Mary senior running back Jonathan Grimes. Massachusetts linebacker Tyler Holmes was selected as Defensive Player of the Year. The Blue Hens’ five selection was second only to William & Mary’s six selections.
“My teammates and I are really anxious for the season to come, put the pads on, and get back on the field,” said Pierce, who led the nation’s freshmen in rushing a year ago with 1,655 yards and 14 touchdowns. “I don’t really pay much attention to all of the pre-season accolades and things like that. I just want to work hard every day and win. Everything is a team effort and I couldn’t do anything without the help of my teammates. Something like this just motivates me to push harder and be the best that I can be.”
The CAA also announced its television schedule for the 2011 season, a network of 27 games involving the 11 league teams as well as 2012 league newcomer Georgia State. Delaware will be on television seven times during the season, including games at Navy on Sept. 3 (CBS College Sports TV); Sept. 24 vs. Old Dominion (Comcast SportsNet; The Comcast Network); Oct. 1 at Maine (WABI); Oct. 15 vs. Massachusetts (TCN; CSN-NE); Oct. 29 at Towson (CSN; CSN-NE); Nov. 12 vs Richmond (TCN; CSN-NE); and Nov. 19 vs. Villanova at PP&L Park in Chester, Pa. (12 noon).
The Hens will open pre-season camp Aug. 8 in preparation for the season opener Sept. 3 at Navy and the home opener Sept. 10 vs. West Chester. Great season ticket packages, discounted ticket packs, and single season tickets are currently available. Go to the “Tickets” banner on the Delaware athletics website at www.bluehens.com for more information on how to order.
Colonial Athletic Association Pre-Season Poll
1. William & Mary(12 first place votes); 2. James Madison (4); 3. Delaware (2); 4. New Hampshire (2), 5. Massachusetts (1); 6. Richmond; 7. Villanova; 8. Rhode Island (1); 9. Maine; 10. Old Dominion; 11. Towson.
CAA Pre-Season All-Conference Teams
Offense - QB - Steve Probst (Rhode Island); RB - Andrew Pierce (Delaware), Jonathan Grimes (Wm. & Mary); FB - Kelvin Gaskins (Richmond); WR - Tre Gray (Richmond), Julian Talley (Massachusetts); Norman White (Villanova); TE - Alex Gottlieb (Wm. & Mary); OL - Gino Gradkowski (Delaware), Rob McDowell (Delaware), Roane Babington (James Madison); James Pagliaro (Wm. & Mary), Dan Shirey (Villanova).
Defense - DL - Michael Atunrase (Delaware), Frank Beltre (Towson), Marcus Hyde ( Wm. & Mary), Antoine Lewis (Villanova); Brian McNulty (New Hampshire); LB - Paul Worrilow (Delaware), Tyler Holmes (Massachusetts), Matt Evans (New Hampshire), Stephon Roberson (James Madison); Dante Cook (William & Mary); DB - Jerron McMillian (Maine), Vidal Nelson (James Madison), James Pitts (Villanova), B.W. Webb (William & Mary).
Special Teams - Returns - Travis Hurd (Rhode Island), K - Will Shamlin (Richmond); P - David Skahn (Wm. & Mary).